'1993 Bengal police firing worse than Jallianwala Bagh massacre'

'1993 Bengal police firing worse than Jallianwala Bagh massacre'

Terming it "worse than the Jallianwala Bagh massacre", the Justice Sushanta Chatterjee Commission Monday said the July 21, 1993, police firing in which 13 Congress workers were killed was "unprovoked and unconstitutional".

The commission Monday submitted its report in which it has held responsible the people at the helm of the state home department and police top brass for the firing on Youth Congress activists who had laid a siege to the Writers' Buildings - the state secretariat.

Immediately after assuming power in May 2011, the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government constituted the commission to ascertain who issued the order to police to open fire at the rally spearheaded by Banerjee - then a Youth Congress leader.

"The commission has come to a conclusion that the instant case is even worse than Jallianwala Bagh massacre. After going through a host of witnesses and documents, the commission has found the firing was unprovoked and unconstitutional," Justice Chatterjee said, revealing the findings of the report.     

"The people who were at the helm of the home department as well as the top police brass cannot escape from responsibility for the firing," the judge said.

"Those entrusted with the home department and police failed to discharge their constitutional obligation during a situation that involved the lives of citizens of this country," added the retired Calcutta High Court judge.   

Having examined over 300 witnesses, including former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Left Front chairperson Biman Bose, the commission said the order for the firing came from a police control room.

"There have been many inconsistencies within police as to who made the order for the firing, which had come from the police control room."

"On the basis of the testimonies, the commission, instead of specifying any particular authority or officer, has held the home department and police jointly and severally liable," said Justice Chatterjee.

The commission also ordered Rs.25 lakh as compensation for the kin of the each dead and Rs.5 lakh for those injured in the police firing.

Chatterjee clarified that of the 13 victims, 12 died in the firing while another died later due to illness.
Observing that hitting the streets for demonstration was a democratic right of the people, Justice Chatterjee said police ought to have been more restrained and thoughtful, so that such an incident is not repeated. 

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